BADGER, JOSEPH (28 Feb. 1757-5 Apr. 1846), the first missionary sent to the WESTERN RESERVE by the Connecticut Missionary Society and founder of the first Congregational church in the Western Reserve (in Austinburg), was one of the earliest clergymen in the area and, traditionally, preacher of the first sermon in Cleveland. Joseph Badger was born in Wilbraham, Mass., to Henry and Mary Langdon Badger and after service in the Continental Army, he worked as a weaver but quit to attend Yale, graduating in 1785. Ordained a Congregational minister in 1786, Badger arrived in the Western Reserve in late 1800, after a 13-year career in a Massachusetts church, to serve both Congregationalists and Presbyterians under the Plan of Union, the first Congregational effort to cooperate with Presbyterians in missionary activities on the frontier. His wilderness travels gave him a knowledge of the frontier which brought him to the attention of Wm. Henry Harrison and led to his appointment as a brigade chaplain during the War of 1812. He spent 35 years in the Western Reserve as a missionary and resident minister, organizing churches and schools. Interested in education, in 1801 Badger tried to secure a charter from the Territorial Assembly for a college, and in 1803 he sponsored the plans of the Erie Literary Society for an academy in Burton. Badger's retirement in 1825 was interrupted by another 8-year tenure as pastor of a new congregation. Badger was married in 1784 to Lois Noble. She died in 1818. He married Abigail Ely in 1819. Badger had six children from his first marriage: Henry, Lucius, Joseph, Sarah, Juliana, and Lucia. He died in Perrysburg, Ohio and was buried in the Fort Meigs Cemetery there.
Weimer, Gary Wilfred. Man of God in New Connecticut (Senior Thesis, Princeton Univ., 1966).
Badger, Joseph. A Memoir of Joseph Badger (ed. by Henry Noble Day, 1851).
Finding aid for the Joseph Badger Papers. WRHS.